Sure, some lies can be fairly innocent–like telling your partner you enjoy their cooking when you don’t, or claiming your friend’s new outfit looks great when it, in fact, doesn’t.
Other lies, however, can have far greater grave implications.
And deception is, in some form or another, very much among us.
Liars can come in the form of business partners, significant others, public servants, and new friends at the pub.
Hence, it’s wise to start developing the necessary precautionary measures.
While we shouldn’t become overly paranoid, at the same time, we shouldn’t be naive either. Balance is key.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the warning signs you’re dealing with a compulsive liar.
Once you get a clearer idea of things, you can move accordingly.
Let’s dive in!
1) Their stories are inconsistent
Do you know why we occasionally fall for lies, even the ridiculous ones?
It’s because compulsive liars are skilled at what they do.
That’s right–they can tell you a flat-out untruth, look you straight in the eye, appearing as stony-faced and sincere as they come.
Sometimes, we only catch on when we notice minor inconsistencies in their stories.
At times, compulsive liars create such an intricate web for themselves, that it becomes legitimately difficult to keep their stories straight.
They may even tell differing versions of the same story to other people.
When you inevitably feel the urge to verify things, they begin to unravel.
I love seeing shady politicians get revealed.
They might be making a bold, albeit phony proclamation to riotous applause, only for a clip or Tweet from the past to resurface of them saying the complete opposite.
Careful, liars. The internet never forgets.
2) They tell fantastical tales
Here’s the thing: The compulsive liar wants to either impress or manipulate you. Or both.
They’ll fabricate or completely exaggerate their entire life stories, accomplishments, and experiences without batting an eyelash.
I’ve dealt with compulsive liars many times in my life yet the experience of dealing with them can still feel bizarre.
Years ago when I opened my small business, we had an errant employee who was caught stealing a substantial amount of money from the company over a period of months.
We rarely questioned his integrity because he always seemed so genuine.
But now that I reflect on things, I realize that there were red flags that I may have chosen to overlook.
Like the time he said he was Donald Trump’s godson and they were in frequent contact.
Or the time he claimed he once dated a Victoria’s Secret model and ended it because his ex wanted him back.
Sure, I raised an eyebrow when I heard these fantastical claims, but I thought they were mostly harmless.
So when he was exposed as a thief, everything began to add up.
3) They tell unnecessary, mundane lies
Sometimes, people get so accustomed to lying, that it almost becomes a reflex.
Even when it comes to trivial things, like what they had for lunch or what did they over the weekend, the compulsive liar may stretch the truth.
So if someone you know states they had dinner at a fancy steakhouse, but you later find out they actually just had Indian takeout at home, something’s off.
Sure, you may think that the occasional stretching of the truth is innocuous–but if you know a person who is routinely capable of lying to you with a straight face, this is cause for concern.
It’s best to stay on your toes.
4) They get defensive
People lie for a host of unsavory reasons–the manifestations of deep-seated personality issues.
Behind the compulsive liar’s earnest facade lies darkness.
So when you question or challenge a compulsive liar, they often react with anger and become defensive and evasive.
Being questioned isn’t part of the plan and this upsets them, thoroughly ruffling their feathers.
They may start attacking you and your character, resorting to unnecessarily personal insults.
And once they finally regain their composure, they will resort to more lies to cover up their initial falsehoods.
They’ll relentlessly dig themselves into a bigger and deeper hole–anything to avoid fessing up.
5) They have a lack of remorse
While the casual liar might feel a sense of guilt for their faulty words, a compulsive liar doesn’t often show remorse for their lies–perhaps because they’re still convinced that they’re in the right.
This can be dangerous.
Once someone habitually convinces themself of a lie, they can always justify their actions, however harmful to others.
Think of the devious cult leader who at first is consciously fooling people, only to later start believing their own falsehoods (i.e. being the son of God); gradually becoming more and more deluded in their own fiction.
When they’re eventually held accountable, don’t expect a great deal of repentance or guilt.
They’ll find a way to justify their actions through “ideology.”
6) They’ll shift the blame
And since we’re on the topic, accountability is like kryptonite to the compulsive liar.
After all, taking accountability is a practice that requires some integrity–something that is essentially a foreign concept to them.
They’ll pull out all the stops when caught in a lie.
Maybe they’ll shift responsibility and blame onto others, sometimes even turning on their closest allies to save face. Sound familiar?
So if you know a habitual liar, it’s best to keep some distance.
You don’t want to get caught up in their madness.
7) They seem to attract drama
Real talk: People don’t attract drama by coincidence.
If someone you know always seems to be involved in some kind of personal drama, look a little deeper.
Chances are, you’ll often find that the chaos is rooted in their desire to spread harmful lies.
It’s not rocket science. If you sprout unconfirmed gossip about other people, this is bound to stir up some indignation.
From my experience, where there’s smoke there’s fire. And when there’s drama, there’s often a deceitful person fanning the flames.
8) Their body language gives them away
They say the majority of our communication is non-verbal.
So if you suspect you’re dealing with a compulsive liar, go with your gut.
They’ll often exhibit textbook signs like excess fidgeting, avoidance of eye contact, and nervous behaviors like scratching, biting nails, or playing with hair.
Perhaps they may exhibit defensive postures, crossing arms, or distancing themselves physically from others.
Frequent shifting of weight from foot to foot, throat clearing, or swallowing can also indicate dishonesty.
Although body language alone is not confirmation of a liar (as some of these “tells” can coincide with anxious personalities), when paired with a couple of other signs, the combination can be quite definitive.
If you suspect you have a compulsive liar in your life, take action.
Either communicate your issues and hope for the best, or walk away and never look back.
Life is too short for dishonesty.
The sooner you realize that the sooner you can start living more authentically, prioritizing meaningful connections rather than deceitful ones.
Remember, the truth will set you free, liars will hold you back.